The National Football League has informed several players, including Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis and Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett, that the customized face masks they had been wearing during the OTAs and training camp would not be permitted to be worn during games.
Another player who planned to wear a customized face mask is Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo, who plans to appeal the league's "disheartening" decision, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports.
"Hopefully we can," said Orakpo, wore his regular face mask during last Thursday night's preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans. "We’re obviously in the process right now of trying to get it cleared again. But right now we’re denied so we just have to go with what they say."
Two players – Baltimore Ravens defensive end Chris Canty and New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck – have received permission to wear the customized face masks. The only exception the NFL is making is for medical reasons and both Canty and Tuck have well-documented back and/or neck injuries that would necessitate the use of a customized face mask. The argument for Canty and Tuck is that the "grill"-style mask does not give offensive linemen anything to grab and pull, which could aggravate or exacerbate those players' preexisting injuries.
Orakpo, who missed most of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, may have a harder time convincing the NFL that he meets the standard for a medical exemption.